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Future Directions for Pacific Studies

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Title:Future Directions for Pacific Studies
Authors:Firth, Stewart
Pacific studies
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LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:2003
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Firth, S. 2003. Future Directions for Pacific Studies. Special issue, The Contemporary Pacific 15 (1): 139-48.
Abstract:Pacific studies in Hawai‘i and possibly New Zealand, and certainly Hawaiian and
Mäori studies, are mostly conceptualized as projects of cultural renaissance, in
which the aim is to reclaim and reassert cultural identity. The fundamental
research question becomes How can we understand the Pacific in ways that honor
the past and reclaim the future for uniquely Pacific Island ways of doing things?
In the independent Pacific and in certain other places such as the Australian
National University, Pacific studies tends to be conceptualized more, though not
exclusively, as a project of modernization and development, and the fundamental
research question becomes How can we understand the region in ways that will
make people better off?
These two central paradigms of Pacific studies, both of which contribute to our
understanding, derive from different historical experiences, above all in the degree
to which foreign influence altered or preserved tradition. Events in Melanesia are
an important part of the contemporary political background against which we
must ponder the future of Pacific studies, and the outlook there is less positive
than in Polynesia and Micronesia. There will be less room in the future for romanticism
about Melanesian tradition and more inclination to examine the endless
ways in which Melanesians use tradition to serve modern ends.
In imagining how a Pacific studies consortium might work, the emphasis should
be on exchanges of every kind: of information over the Internet, of staff, of courses
and simulations, and of students.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific ], 2003 - Volume 15, Number 1

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